St. Lucie County Sees A Record Number of Sea Turtle Nests This Season
St. Lucie County is experiencing a record number of sea turtle nests this season with one species laying 50 percent more nests than last year.
Ecological Associates of Jensen Beach, which surveys sea turtling nesting for St. Lucie County along with In-water Research Group and the Fort Pierce Inlet State Park, has documented 4,840 loggerhead nests, 337 green turtle nests and 90 leatherback nests through June 30. Loggerhead nest are up 50 percent compared to last season and 5 percent higher than 2016, which was a record year.
Residents are reminded that sea turtle nesting season runs March 1 through Nov. 15. There are three species of marine turtles that nest along Hutchinson Island and the Treasure Coast: Green, Loggerhead and Leatherback. All are listed as endangered or threatened species.
Residents, businesses and visitors can help sea turtles by taking a few important steps:
Turn off the Lights – Turn off any light sources (from buildings or flashlights) that are directly visible from the beach or seaward of the primary dune between sunset and sunrise.
Put your Stuff Away – Remove all unattended beach furniture and other items from the shoreline at night. This ensures that hatchlings don’t get caught up on their way to the ocean and your possessions aren’t taken out to sea. Marine turtle adults and hatchlings have died from entanglement in beach furniture. Furthermore, all garbage should be picked up and removed from the beaches.
Tear Down the Sand Castles and Fill in the Holes – Sand castles are fun to build, but can become deadly traps for sea turtle hatchlings. Be sure to tear them down and fill in any holes before leaving the beach, including holes dug by dogs at Walton Rocks Beach: St. Lucie County’s only dog-friendly beach, located at 6700 South Ocean Drive.
St. Lucie County takes marine turtle protection seriously. Please do not handle marine turtles, their hatchlings or their eggs. Disturbing marine turtles or their nests is a violation of State and Federal laws and carries criminal penalties. To report marine turtle nest poaching, hatchling disorientations, harassment or dead marine turtles, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife hotline at 1-888-404-FWCC.
Information is available for residents and visitors with questions about marine turtle-related issues. The UF/IFAS St. Lucie County Extension has general information and educational materials about marine turtles. For additional information, visit the Extension Office’s website at http://stlucie.ifas.ufl.edu/seaturtle.html.